Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Utah's Trying to Fast-Track Clean Car, Clean Fuel

Utah Department of Transportation
Supporters say federal Tier 3 standards will go a long way toward cleaning up Wasatch Front air pollution. They say the clean car and clean fuel rules will be like getting the pollution from 4 of every 5 cars off the road.

State air-quality officials are still trying to bring next-generation clean cars and clean fuel to Utah. They told lawmakers Wednesday they are making headway.

One reason they are so determined is that the federal Environmental Protection Agency says its new Tier 3 standards will do more to clean up air pollution on the Wasatch Front than anywhere else in the nation. State officials want these federal standards met in Utah even before they kick in nationwide. That involves persuading auto dealers to stock low-pollution cars

“So, as we talked to the dealers, they said, we can help,” said Alan Matheson, Gov. Gary Herbert’s senior environmental advisor.

“We can educate our members. We can bring in these cleaner vehicles sooner than 2017. And we collectively start educating the public look at that smog rating and consider getting a cleaner vehicle.”

Matheson pointed out that new vehicles with ratings of 8, 9 or 10 on their window stickers already meet Tier 3 standards.

Meanwhile, the Herbert Administration also is talking about clean fuel with refineries. Regulators can’t force them to deliver the low-sulfur gasoline because of quirks in the federal regulations. But Matheson says refinery company executives have stepped up.

“They are very much aware of what they can do to help, and have committed to do so.”

Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis warned that it’s too soon to act like the battle for clean air is over.

“I think we need to be careful about patting ourselves in the back,” he said. “The reason things are so wonderful is because the EPA almost with a shotgun at our heads has forced us to do so many things we have fought along the way. And so now to say look how good it is, you know, may be accepting a little bit too much credit.”

Herbert’s Clean Air Action Teamrecently put Tier 3 regulations at the top of its list of the best tools for cleaning up Utah’s air. Its leader, Robert Grow, said once the clean fuels and clean cars are in place, it will be like taking the pollution from four of every five cars off of Utah’s roads.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.